SSAT Testing Options 2020-2021

Bonus Material: SSAT Guidebook 2020-2021

The Enrollment Management Association, which produces the SSAT, has announced new SSAT testing options for the fall of 2020 and winter of 2021.

Historically, students could only take a paper-based SSAT. They could do so for three kinds of administrations:

  • Standard
  • Flex Testing
  • Benchmark

Now, students have three SSAT testing options and many more SSAT test dates!

We understand that this can be a bit confusing for families navigating the secondary school admissions process this 2020. In this post, we outline these latest SSAT testing options so that you can feel confident selecting a testing option and date.

We also give you access to our SSAT Guidebook, which includes 85+ pages of information related to preparing for and taking the SSAT. Grab it below.

Here’s what we cover in this post:

The 3 SSAT Testing Options for 2020-2021

Historically, the standard SSAT has been offered as a paper-based exam eight times at testing centers per academic year (August 1 – July 31) in the following months:

  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December
  • January
  • February
  • April
  • June

Students have also had the option of Flex Testing, which allows test-takers to sit for the exam on a non-standard testing date.

As of August 2020, there are now three current SSAT testing options. 

  • Computer-Based SSAT at Home (new)
  • Computer-Based SSAT at a Prometric Testing Center (new)
  • Paper-Based SSAT (includes Flex and Benchmark testing)

With three testing options, students now have the opportunity to take the SSAT nearly every weekend, beginning in late September 2020! 

**The exam’s format, content, and length are consistent across these testing options. Registration fees are also identical.**

We’ll walk through each of these testing options now.

Computer-Based SSAT at Home

Students in the U.S. and Canada only will be able to take a computer-based SSAT At Home beginning September 26, 2020. 

This is a digital (non paper-based) SSAT students can take in the comfort of their own homes.

The SSAT At Home requires, in general, the following:

  • A typed writing sample (as opposed to handwritten)
  • Internet access
  • Appropriate testing environment / equipment
  • The capacity to navigate between a digital interface and scratch paper (for figuring)

The SSAT at Home will be available every Saturday from 9 AM to 3 PM EST and the first Sunday of each month, and parents can register their student for an SSAT At Home up to 90 days in advance. If you need to reschedule an SSAT At Home, you can do so up to a week in advance of the testing date.

Students with approved testing accommodations are also eligible for the SSAT At Home.

The SSAT At Home is delivered by EMA’s partner, PSI, and administered through a secure web application “with continuous AI monitoring, data forensics, and live remote proctoring.”

What does this mean? Live proctors administer each SSAT At Home and monitor test-takers via webcam. Students must also select their answer choices to questions digitally.

At the time of publishing this post, EMA has outlined At Home testing dates through the end of January 2021. 

EMA has strict requirements for At Home test-takers, especially when it comes to technical and room requirements. We thus encourage parents to review the following resources when preparing for an SSAT At Home:

We discuss SSAT testing options and much more in our comprehensive SSAT Guidebook, which you can download for free below.

Computer-Based SSAT at a Prometric Testing Center

SSAT test-takers in the U.S., Canada, and select countries abroad have the option of taking a computer-based SSAT at a Prometric Testing Center

If you choose this testing option, your student will be taking the digital version of the paper-based SSAT at a designated Prometric Testing Center.  

What can students expect when taking the computer-based SSAT at a Prometric Testing Center? 

The test itself is no different from a paper-based SSAT, other than the fact that it is entirely computer-based. This involves:

  • A typed writing sample (as opposed to handwritten) and
  • The capacity to navigate between a digital interface and scratch paper (for figuring)

EMA emphasizes that

The types of questions, the sections, and related parts of the computer-based SSAT are the same. Your student will simply use a computer for all test sections instead of a book and an answer sheet.

Proctors will give students a brief tutorial at the start of an SSAT administration so that they can get comfortable with the interface. However, students can practice utilizing the Prometric interface here before Test Day.

Parents/guardians can wait in the waiting room of the testing center as their student completes the exam. Parents will have to sign a waiver form if they wish to leave the center and return only to pick up their student.

If your student has testing accommodations, they are eligible to take the computer-based Prometric SSAT. However, they should have accommodations approved before registering.

If you need support with a Prometric registration, you can contact either Prometric customer support or EMA customer support. Parents needing to reschedule a Prometric registration will have to do so through Prometric (not EMA).

Students are able to take the computer-based SSAT at a Prometric Testng Center up to two times.

Families can expect scores within four business days of testing at a Prometric test center, which is a much faster turnaround than that of the paper-based SSAT.

Paper-Based SSAT 

Students can also take the paper-based SSAT, when available at specific testing centers. These test dates are very limited, however, for 2020. 

EMA will still administer Flex and Benchmark SSAT exams this testing season, which are paper-based. Learn more about SSAT Flex Testing here.

The expectations for taking the paper-based SSAT are similar for taking the computer-based exam at a Prometric Center. We encourage parents to check out EMA’s Guide to the Paper-Based SSAT here.

Want more information about what to expect on an SSAT Test Day, no matter which test you choose? Download our free SSAT Guidebook below.

Which Testing Option is Best for My Student?

Of these three options, which should your student choose? The answer to that question depends on many factors, including but not limited to the following:

  1. Access (i.e., internet connection and equipment for the SSAT At Home)
  2. Application deadlines / testing timeline
  3. Testing accommodations
  4. Location
  5. Availability 
  6. Health & safety

We want to emphasize that, according to EMA, there is no difference between the three testing options with respect to the following:

  • Registration cost
  • Content
  • Length
  • Format

For now, here’s a helpful visual that compares the distinctions between the three SSAT testing options for 2020-2021:

SSAT Testing OptionFormatTesting DatesRegistrationTesting Accomm-odationsScore ReleaseLocations
Paper-Based SSATPaper2020: 
Sept. 26, Oct. 31, Nov. 21, Dec. 19
Open for select locationsYes2 weeks after testingU.S., Canada, select intnl.
SSAT At HomeDigitalEvery Saturday starting Sept. 26, 2020 (and the first Sunday of every month)Open; can register up to 90 days in advanceYes4 days after testingU.S. and Canada only
SSAT At Prometric Testing CenterDigitalVariable*Open for Upper-Level SSAT; can only take up to two timesYes,4 days after testingU.S., Canada, select intnl.

*Depends on availability of Prometric Testing Centers in your geographic area.

Download PrepMaven’s 2020-2021 SSAT Guidebook

At PrepMaven, we’re here to help you navigate your student’s SSAT test prep journey with as much ease as possible. 

A great place to start is our SSAT Guidebook!

SSAT Resources_Guidebook

Here’s what you’ll get with this guidebook:

  • Over 85 pages of comprehensive, user-friendly details about the SSAT
  • Information about the SSAT and private school informations
  • Guidance for preparing for and taking the SSAT
  • Introductory strategies and content for all 5 sections of the SSAT
  • A list of test prep resources available to SSAT test-takers
  • And so much more!

Kate_Princeton Tutoring_AuthorBio Kate

Kate is a graduate of Princeton University. Over the last decade, Kate has successfully mentored hundreds of students in all aspects of the college admissions process, including the SAT, ACT, and college application essay.